As a service-based business owner do you ever feel like you could be helping so many more people, and could be doing so much more business, if only more people knew about you and what you offer?

Do you feel like the best kept secret in your market? Because your diary's not booked solid and you don't have a waiting list? In fact no-one's calling you at all?

If so, you're not alone. Many business owners feel they have a great service to offer, yet the people they want to help just don't understand, or worse, they don't care! Leaving you constantly chasing clients, because the phone's not ringing, and online queries are almost non-existent.

When this happens it can chip away at your confidence, and have you doubting yourself, doubting the work you're doing, and the prices you're charging. Which can mean you stop talking to people, you hide yourself in your office and keep yourself busy. And you don't pick up the phone, you make excuses, and you hope and pray that things will turn around!

When you're in this position there is a four stage process I recommend you work through to determine where the real issue lies.

Stage 1. Check how clear you are on your core business message

This is important because it's the foundation to everything you do. Like the central hub on a bicycle wheel it holds the spokes in place, and gives the wheel strength and stability. Having a clear core message, demonstrating what you're about and your unique slant, enables you to decide on the products or services to develop, on how best to position yourself in the marketplace, and on what and how to communicate with potential clients. (These are the spokes in your wheel.)

Stage 2. Check you understand the main difference you make to your clients.

There might be lots of different ways you help people, so if you're not clear on the biggest and best way you bring value to your clients, value they will pay for, it's possible you're confusing them. And a confused mind never buys. It's also possible the language you're using to speak to these people is your own, rather than theirs.

Stage 3. Check for congruence.

If you're communicating with potential clients in different ways – in person, via the phone, email, website, flyers, business cards – it's important that your personal and business brand is consistent, and that your message is always the same. Otherwise people may mistrust you or again be confused.

Stage 4. Check in with yourself.

If you feel there is clarity, consistency and congruence around your business message, what you really do for your clients and the different ways you communicate, and you're still a well-kept secret, then the next stage is to get curious and check in with yourself by asking: "What's really stopping me singing from the rooftops?"

Ask with curiosity rather than judgement, as this will enable you to tap into your subconscious and recognise how you might be limiting yourself. It will allow you to explore whether fears, beliefs or expectations you've subconsciously acquired – I call these your show-stoppers - are making you procrastinate, not pick up the phone, not network or speak to people, not sell/ask for the sale, not do what you say you want to do on a consistent basis.

It's crucial to understand your fears, your belief system and the subconscious needs driving your behaviour, because it can be this, rather than getting more business know-how or marketing tactics, that can make the biggest difference for you and your business. And it's such a shame for those who really do need your help that they don't get it, because you're not showing up fully in the marketplace.

So - being curious, clarifying the real issue, then taking action on what you find is the best way to stop being the best kept secret in your market.

Article by Julie Johnson of Julie Johnson Coaching.

Contact Julie on 0845 1662328.

NBSL LogoThis article is brought to you by NBSL's North East Business Support Fund which funds the costs of business improvement projects such as website development, marketing strategies, external consultancy – click here to find out more

The North East Business Support Fund  has hundreds of registered providers offering a wide range of business support. NBSL has used its best efforts to post on this web site the most accurate and reliable information given to us by our providers but does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information. The thoughts and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and are licensed to NBSL for publication on this website.

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